All About Notes

Where are my notes about the new notes updating the old notes?

By Jeff Salter

Notes are on our collective minds this week at 4F1H — and that means different things to different ones of us. For the Hound Day’s journey to Note-Land, let us focus on how I employ them (or DON’T employ them) in my writing.

First of all, in my fiction writing I’m much more of a Pants-ter than a Plotter. I’ve tried outlining stories – or parts of stories – and I usually get frustrated and quit. Or, I’ll have something outlined and later when I get to that point in the actual writing… too many things have changed and that step is either too different or no longer even necessary.


So, I usually start with a premise or a concept… and then figure out who is involved in it. Then I figure out who they’re in contact with… and what circumstances they face. Then, together, those characters and I proceed until we reach the conclusion of that episode.

But I’m very much a typing person, so most of my drafting is done right here at the keyboard. When I can’t get to a keyboard – or when I need to preserve some particular gem before I forget it and it’ll take too long to get to my PC – I’ll jot things down on paper. When I’m really doing things right, I’ll transcribe those notes right away and everything’s copasetic. But more often, I’ll put down those handwritten pages and next time I’m at my PC I’ll just resume work where I left off in the digital manuscript.

Have you guessed what happens to those handwritten notes?

Many times, I’ve gotten to a certain place in the computer manuscript and I’ll be thinking: “Hmm. This scene really needs Character A to recall that important incident to Character B.” So I’ll just sit there and type out that exchange. As I’m doing so, I have this vague sense of déjà vu.

You can likely guess that later, I’ll come across those hand-written notes and realize that I’d already written out that entire scene — but never got around to transcribing it to the computer. When I compare the two versions of that scene, section, chapter – whatever it was – often there are striking differences. So I’m left to figure out which one to use: the one I hand-wrote first or the one I later typed as I had that vague déjà vu feeling?


I have writing tablets filled with hand-written stuff. In my earlier writing years, these would more likely be poems or poetic fragments. Some are dream accounts that I never got around to typing… some are things I wanted to remember to include in a novel that’s already been published (but I forgot about those notes). Many are concepts or “starts” for new fiction projects that I won’t likely have enough years on this earth to ever get around to.


Writing notes (for my writing projects) – for me – often leads nowhere. If it’s not almost immediately incorporated into whatever I’m working on (at the PC), it will likely be O.B.E. [overcome by events] by the time I stumble across it again.

[JLS # 502]


About Jeff Salter

Currently writing romantic comedy, screwball comedy, and romantic suspense. Fourteen completed novels and four completed novellas. Working with three royalty publishers: Clean Reads, Dingbat Publishing, & TouchPoint Press/Romance. "Cowboy Out of Time" -- Apr. 2019 /// "Double Down Trouble" -- June 2018 /// "Not Easy Being Android" -- Feb. 2018 /// "Size Matters" -- Oct. 2016 /// "The Duchess of Earl" -- Jul. 2016 /// "Stuck on Cloud Eight" -- Nov. 2015 /// "Pleased to Meet Me" (novella) -- Oct. 2015 /// "One Simple Favor" (novella) -- May 2015 /// "The Ghostess & MISTER Muir" -- Oct. 2014 /// "Scratching the Seven-Month Itch" -- Sept. 2014 /// "Hid Wounded Reb" -- Aug. 2014 /// "Don't Bet On It" (novella) -- April 2014 /// "Curing the Uncommon Man-Cold -- Dec. 2013 /// "Echo Taps" (novella) -- June 2013 /// "Called To Arms Again" -- (a tribute to the greatest generation) -- May 2013 /// "Rescued By That New Guy in Town" -- Oct. 2012 /// "The Overnighter's Secrets" -- May 2012 /// Co-authored two non-fiction books about librarianship (with a royalty publisher), a chapter in another book, and an article in a specialty encyclopedia. Plus several library-related articles and reviews. Also published some 120 poems, about 150 bylined newspaper articles, and some 100 bylined photos. Worked about 30 years in librarianship. Formerly newspaper editor and photo-journalist. Decorated veteran of U.S. Air Force (including a remote ‘tour’ of duty in the Arctic … at Thule AB in N.W. Greenland). Married; father of two; grandfather of six.
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9 Responses to All About Notes

  1. jbrayweber says:

    I write by the seat of my pants, too, Jeff. But for several years, I wrote longhand. Sometimes still do. I have hardbound spirals of my work. I almost always use what I write down. But in greater depth. So for me, transcribing the written word is like a second draft or self-editing. I actually enjoy the process. 🙂
    Great post.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Jeff Salter says:

      I think that’s an ideal way to incorporate notes into your writing process, Jenn.
      I’m glad some of us authors are organized enough to follow thru!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Oh, we are much alike, you and I. Finding those fragments and realizing they stayed in your subconscious and got out to screen anyway is good. Maybe we DON’T have to worry about ideas getting lost after all.
    Pantser, here, absolutely.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Jeff, are you sure we’re not related? LOL This could all be written by me, except for the notes I mentioned in one of the foxes blog. Those I find extremely helpful when hanging right in front of my face.

    Being a pantser is all about spontaneity in writing. Did you know that one of the synonyms for spontaneous is “natural?”

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Patricia Kiyono says:

    I tried pantsing a book once. It was terrible, and I had to start over. I guess there are as many methods to write as there are writers.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Jeff Salter says:

      Agreed. We pants-ters would be flailing about in the plotter’s world.
      That said, I truly believe I’m a bit of both.


  5. Elaine Cantrell says:

    It usually leads nowhere for me too, Jeff.


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